Poem by William Bliss Carman (1861-1929)

AKA  Bliss Carman

In the Wings


    The play is Life; and this round earth,
    The narrow stage whereon
    We act before an audience
    Of actors dead and gone.

    There is a figure in the wings
    That never goes away,
    And though I cannot see his face,
    I shudder while I play.

    His shadow looms behind me here,
    Or capers at my side;
    And when I mouth my lines in dread,
    Those scornful lips deride.

    Sometimes a hooting laugh breaks out,
    And startles me alone;
    While all my fellows, wondering
    At my stage-fright, play on.

    I fear that when my Exit comes,
    I shall encounter there,
    Stronger than fate, or time, or love,
    And sterner than despair,

    The Final Critic of the craft,
    As stage tradition tells;
    And yet--perhaps 'twill only be
    The jester with his bells.



More information on Bliss Carman

Poetry by Editorial Team The PoetBay support member heart!
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Written on 2022-02-07 at 00:00

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D G Moody The PoetBay support member heart!
I cannot add more praise to what Allen has already given; only to say how much I appreciate the editors choices - poets I probably haven't hears of before; it makes me want to find them.

Griffonner The PoetBay support member heart!
It is a fine poem, isn't it. And one that is based on that Shakespearean concept of actors acting on a stage (though I'm certain it wasn't even a unique concept when he penned it.) We all have this fascination with the concept of life and death, for thinking beings it is only to be expected. If there any benefits from that, this poem may be an example of them. Nice choice.